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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: Nuclear Waste, Yucca Mountain Lawsuit, Dow Chemical Penalty

A presidential Blue Ribbon Panel on Friday recommended that the U.S. take care of its nuclear waste by using a network of interim storage sites and one or more permanent geologic dumps, Reuters said. The 15-member panel suggested that volunteer host towns are needed along with the $25 billion in Nuclear Waste Fund money to address the 65,000 tonnes of waste piling up near reactors.

South Carolina, Washington, and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners on Friday filed a lawsuit against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to require the agency to rule on the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada and to review the Department of Energy’s license application for the site, the Hill said. The states host Department of Energy nuclear waste sites.

Dow Chemical on Friday agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act at its manufacturing and research facilities in Midland, Mich., the EPA said. The 24-count complaint includes alleged violations related to monitoring and repairing leaking equipment, demonstrating initial and continuous compliance with rules for chemical, pharmaceutical, and pesticide plants, and reporting and recordkeeping. The company must implement a comprehensive emissions control program for leaking equipment.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday is scheduled to hear testimony from all five members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on its report recommending safety changes for U.S. nuclear plants, the Hill said. On Wednesday, the Select Revenue Measures subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee will discuss the Nat Gas Act, which would provide tax breaks to trucking companies that convert to natural gas fuel.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Friday announced the Partnership to Fuel America, a business and industry group interested in supporting the Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian oil to Gulf Coast refineries, the Hill said. Matt Koch, a former American Petroleum Institute lobbyist, will lead the new partnership.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is investigating the Obama administration’s negotiations with automakers for new fuel economy standards, the Hill reported. The President on Friday announced an agreement for a corporate average fuel economy standard of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Issa said he is concerned about the lack of transparency or an open rulemaking process as well as the standard’s vehicle cost and job impact.

Environmental group New Energy Economy has won the right to participate in New Mexico Environmental Impact Board (EIB) meetings about greenhouse gas regulations for public utilities, the New Mexico Independent said. The Public Service Company of New Mexico had appealed the state’s new cap-and-trade program and asked for a private mediation with the EIB. According to the report, the board will determine whether it will hear appeals from the utility company on the new rules.

The Associated Press reported that the EPA has given its preliminary approval of Exxon Mobil’s Yellowstone River cleanup plan. The company is expected to finalize the plan on Aug. 8. Already 900 people have been performing remediation along dozens of miles of the river that was contaminated by an estimated 42,000 gallons to 50,400 gallons of oil on July 1.

The Department of Energy will analyze the cumulative environmental impacts of increased uranium mining and milling in southwestern Colorado, according to the Telluride Daily Planet. DOE approves uranium leases on public lands. Conservation groups have sued the agency, saying that the leasing program does not comply with the National Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.

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